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12 Dec, 2014 05:26

No NSA doc, no evidence? German prosecutor says can’t prove US tapped Merkel’s phone

Germany’s chief prosecutor said there is still no hard evidence linking the NSA to the tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone, especially because the investigation failed to get a hold of the original NSA document authorizing the spying.

READ MORE: Germany to probe alleged NSA snooping of Chancellor Merkel's phone

Prosecutor Harald Range revealed that it has proven difficult to obtain evidence that would stand up in court since the investigation began in June, following former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations of the tapping of world leaders’ communications. German outlet Der Spiegel broke the story on the spying of Angela Merkel’s phone in particular.

“As of today, there is no evidence leading to charges that connection data were recorded or a phone call by the chancellor was listened to,” Range said at a televised year-end news conference on Thursday.

READ MORE: German lawmakers to ask Snowden testify over mass surveillance despite govt pressure

Crucially, he said, German authorities were not able to get a hold of the authentic NSA document which authorized the wiretapping of Merkel’s phone.

“The document presented in public as proof of an actual tapping of the mobile phone is not an authentic surveillance order by the NSA. It does not come from the NSA database,” the prosecutor said.

Range said that an editor at Spiegel prepared the paper's report on the basis of the NSA documents he visually inspected/examined.

Chief State Prosecutor Harald Range (Reuters / Alex Domanski)

READ MORE: Germany to drop investigation into US spying on Merkel - report

Meanwhile, the NSA remained quiet throughout the investigation and Snowden is yet to respond to an invitation to provide a written statement on his knowledge of the wiretapping.

Also, Range’s requests to Germany’s spy agency "haven't taken us further," he said.

Despite little progress, Range said that the investigation continues. There is also hope that a parallel parliamentary inquiry into the incident will yield something new.

READ MORE: Merkel reportedly gets NSA-proof phone with chip costing 2.5k euros

The scandal initially broke when journalists working with Snowden’s leaked documents contacted the German government for clarification. German politicians subsequently suggested involving Snowden as a witness in the wiretapping case.

According to Der Spiegel’s reports, the German chancellor’s mobile phone has been on an NSA target list since 2002 and was code-named 'GE Chancellor Merkel.' The spying was still in force even a few weeks before US President Barack Obama’s visit to Berlin in June 2013.

Following the revelations, the German public was outraged and relations between the two countries cooled.

READ MORE: ‘Like the Stasi’: Merkel likened NSA to infamous German security service